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Old 10-26-2012, 09:42 AM   #1
mayslash
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How the hell to get Brian May (Queen) tone?

He has amazing tone And I cannot nail it. I even have a versatile guitar and amp and pedals.


2012 Gibby les paul standard with coil tap
Egnater Renegade

ts 808
morley bad horsie
mxr analog chorus
tc flashback

Help?
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:46 AM   #2
tubetime86
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You're not gonna 'nail' it without buying his rig. I would think you'd be able to get close with that set up though. How close are you and what is left to be desired?
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:50 AM   #3
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he is using too much whammy bar and it sounds bad
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:06 AM   #4
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This is a response to the same topic I saw on a gear forum I saw a while ago which I think you will find helpful.

Quote:
Brian May is one of my heros.

That Red Special guitar was handmade in the 1960's by Brian and his dad. The pickups are epoxied into place, to avoid the microphonics of ordinary solid body guitars. This style requires extreme gain, on the verge of feedback.

Brian plays with a british sixpence coin as a pick - but he has a light touch.

The wall of Vox AC30 amps are heavily modified (by Pete Cornish I believe) and bear little resemblance to a stock AC30. The power supplies are gutted and replaced with clean, quiet solid state units. There is an extensive transformer interface board designed by Pete Cornish to eliminate grounds loops and hum between them. For live use (long after the classic records were recorded) Brian uses Eventide digital effects, and sends the stereo effects to the outside AC30s, and the central AC30s are for the direct clean sound. I guess the stack of 6 AC30's is basically like a 3 amp setup, with redundancy.

In the studio - he didn't always use the AC30's. He had the famous "Deacy amp" which was basically a hifi bookshelf speaker, with a solid state car radio amp built into it by his bass player. Allegedly they found this amp at the dump. It had no volume control, and Brian controlled the volume by dampening it with his coat.

It is less well known that Pete Cornish was contracted to build him other small battery powered amps. Aparantly the first one he build was rejected, because it was too clean.

Low wattage battery amps have zero hum, and are great for getting controlled feedback at safe volumes for the player (who obviously has to be in the room).

Something that always impressed me about the early Queen guitar tones is the phasey sound (in a good way). I understand they experimented with placing mics inside concrete pipes and stuff like that. Brians guitar also had elaborate pickup phase wiring.

There's more to it than it would appear. I bought the Vox Brian May recording amp, and sold it again. It's little more than a cheap Vox practice amp. The big sellout is that they made it 10 watts (not half a watt) and AC (not batteries). So it's actually nothing like the amp that was used on the records - but I guess they sold thousands of them to gullible people. Not a bad little amp anyway, but you aren't going to get those tones that way.


Good Luck!!
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:07 AM   #5
BjarnedeGraaf
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I want that guitar so bad.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reages
he is using too much whammy bar and it sounds bad

No Brian May never sounds bad.

The basic formula is:

Red Special guitar -> treble booster -> cranked Vox AC30 (normal channel, not Top Boost)

Effects wise, he uses a chorus and a delay for some songs, and wah very rarely.

For all variations from clean to distortion to boosting his solos, he actually just always used the volume pot on his guitar!

You can buy his signature guitar, an official company makes them, but you can get away with a Les Paul or even a Strat too, because the treble booster is such a major part of his tone.

He also uses a rare British coin instead of a pick and that metallic attack is part of his tone. Also, thin strings (.009 or .008 set I believe). Sometimes he blends normal alternate picking with a tiny bit of hybrid picking, like using his pinky to pluck some note on the E string in a fast solo and then continuing using the pick.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:18 AM   #7
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Perhaps check out this website? It talks about his tone and his amp. If I recall correctly, he pulled the clean channel out of the amp to get more gain and a slightly different tone.

http://www.brianmaycentral.net/sounds.html
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:21 AM   #8
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Aside from obviously buying his gear, single coils and phase switching will get you in the right direction.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H4T3BR33D3R
Aside from obviously buying his gear, single coils and phase switching will get you in the right direction.

It's true he uses three single coils, but when performing live, I'd estimate at least 75% of the time he uses a setting where the middle and bridge pickups basically create a pretty normal bridge humbucker tone.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jyrgen
It's true he uses three single coils, but when performing live, I'd estimate at least 75% of the time he uses a setting where the middle and bridge pickups basically create a pretty normal bridge humbucker tone.


That's done with his singles and having your bridge and middle in phase with each other. I find it a bit more clear sounding than buckers so that's why I mentioned the single coils with the switching instead.
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Dude i like rap and stuff. Im a furry and I also have a wolf plush with a hole that i use at times.


Only at times, though.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:50 AM   #11
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Ah one of the great guitar stories:

Unlike the primary instruments of most musicians, the original Red Special was built by May himself along with his father, Harold. They began to work on the guitar in August 1963. Most of the wood came from an 18th century fireplace mantel that a friend of the family was about to throw away. The neck was hand-shaped into the desired form; this was difficult because of the age and quality of the wood. According to May, there are two wormholes in the neck of the guitar
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubetime86

You're not gonna 'nail' it without buying his brain and fingers. I would think you'd be able to get close with that set up though. How close are you and what is left to be desired?

*fixed*
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Old 10-26-2012, 11:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H4T3BR33D3R
That's done with his singles and having your bridge and middle in phase with each other. I find it a bit more clear sounding than buckers so that's why I mentioned the single coils with the switching instead.

Ah, I see, gotta admit I'm no expert when it comes to the wiring of the guitar
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